An Obscure Product From Ilford

on February 25, 2017

There are times when you just have to let yourself go. You have to go out and go mad. Office Christmas parties and federal elections come to mind, though the snacks are better at the latter than the former...

In the case of photography, we all need a dose of fun now and again, and I have decided to take my enjoyments wit a new product from Ilford - the Obscura camera kit.

The box you see with the inspirational if slightly twee slogans on the outside contains a bargain - a fully functional 4 x 5 pinhole camera, 30 sheets of recording media, and exposure calculater* and a book of instructions. The whole thing is $ 50 from the new Camera Electronic Murray Street shop, and they have plenty in stock. Note: I did not get this as a free sample - I paid out my own money for it...

Well, the camera is well made. It is essentially two boxes that slide in upon each other and are kept closed by small magnets - you'll see them as the bright round dots in the illustrations. The box that forms the inner case locks the recording sheet into registration and gives the negative a border. The boxes seem to be formed MDF board.

The pinhole is laser-cut and very precise - about f: optimal size for the 4" x 5" negative. The shutter is s simple rotary flap that is held closed or shut with those shiny magnets. There is a tripod socket in the bottom of the thing.

There is a sheet of decorative stickers with one valuable inclusion - a sight-line sticker that you put on the top surface of the box to give a rough idea what they camera will see.

The media included is 10 sheets of 4 x 5 Ilford Delta 100 film and 20 sheets of Ilford Multigrade IV paper also cut to 4 x 5. There is an empty 3-tray box to help with storage of exposed films later. There is also a sheet containing printed dials that you can assemble into an exposure calculater* and Ilford have been thoughtful enough to include a plastic pop rivet for the dial.

The only other things that I need to complete the outfit are:

1. A tripod. The trusty Cullmann 622 will do fine.

2. An exposure meter. The dear old Gossen Lunasix 3 will be hauled out.

3. A change bag. Dang - I gave mine away a year ago. Hate to spend money on another. I'll make one from an IKEA cardboard box and a couple of black wool socks...

4. A darkroom. I live in a darkroom, so no problem.

5. A plastic developing tray. Got one.

6. A graduated measuring cylinder and thermometer. Got 'em.

7. Bottles of film developer, paper developer, and rapid fixer. All my old stuff has long since been tossed so I got three fresh bottles.

8. A copy of " Pinhole Photography" by Eric Renner. My copy is sitting on the desk as I type. Younger readers may opt for looking up the subject on the internet, but Renner is the bible for the subject. His exposure tables are invaluable.

Now more on how this is all to be used in a future weblog column. I shall fast forward to slowing down completely.

* That is not bad spelling or a mis-print. Plan and calculate all you like, but all pinhole photography requires more light. Just set the shutter open and come back later...